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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Natural Hazards (EASC08011)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe restlessness of our planet is a consequence of the dynamic processes that operate over time both within it, on its surface and in its atmosphere. The dynamic character of the Earth System is not only responsible for our own existence, but also for inevitable natural hazards. This course will introduce the Earth System as a basis for characterising and understanding natural hazards, their causes and consequences. The major types of natural hazard will be described, analysed and assessed in terms of their underlying causes as well as their socio-economic and environmental impacts. This course capitalises on natural synergies between subsurface, surface and human dimensions of the Earth System. Hazards to be considered will include earthquakes and tsunamis, volcanic hazards (local, regional and global scale), meteorological hazards (hurricanes, tornados, dust storms, El Nino, flooding and coastal erosion), topographic hazards such as landslides, and hazards arising from climate change. The evidence for past natural catastrophes and hazards, recorded in natural archives, will be described along with remote sensing methods for documenting current hazards and hazard risk. The principles and application of risk assessment and analysis will be considered with respect to case studies. The Course comprises 20 lectures supplemented by a series of laboratory classes, together with a directed programme of reading. The Course is assessed by degree examination together with a series of practical exercises.
Course description SYLLABUS
Week 1: Introduction (Andy Bell)
L1 - L2: Course outline, introduction to the course staff and description of the learning activities and assessment of the course. Introduction to natural hazards and risk. Vulnerability. Global governance for disaster risk reduction. UNDRR from Yokohama to the Sendai Framework. Quantifying disasters. Root causes of disaster impact.

Weeks 2-4: Earthquake Hazards and Tsunamis (John McCloskey)
L3 ¿ L8: Earthquake Hazards and tsunamis
Where, when, and how big? Intensity, magnitude and seismic moment. Structural geology, earthquake focal mechanisms and relation to plate tectonics and global stress. Estimates of seismic hazard, time-independent and time dependent hazard; seismic sources; characteristic earthquakes and earthquake recurrence. Historical and paleo-seismology. Evidence from Sumatra. Self-organised criticality and the Gutenberg Richter relationship. Coulomb stress and earthquake interaction. Urbanisation, urban expansion and earthquake hazard. Tomorrow¿s Cities. Complexity, power laws and predictability. Ground motion and near surface heterogeneity. Generating tsunamis. Megathrust ruptures and submarine landslides Sulawesi earthquake and cascading hazards. The Sumatra Andaman earthquake and the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Weeks 5-7: Meteorological Hazards (Ruth Doherty)
L9 ¿ L14: Meteorological Hazards.
Introduction: the main climate-/weather-related hazards in context of all natural hazards. Natural climate variability effects on the distribution and magnitudes of these hazards. How might (anthropogenic) climate change affect these hazards? Tropical cyclones and their prediction. Mid- latitudes storms and weather warnings over the UK. Floods and flood warnings. Heatwaves and droughts.

Weeks 8-10: Volcanic Hazard and Risk, and Hazards associated with Slope Instabilities (Andy Bell)
L15 - L19: Volcanism, its physical and chemical phenomenology; types of volcanoes and eruptions; Products of eruptions (lava, pyroclasts, gas); hazards, proximal and distal in accordance with volcano and eruption types; regional and global atmospheric effects. Case studies of volcanic hazards.
L20: Hazard associated with surface topography and slope instability. Landslips and slope collapse; links with earthquakes, volcanism and weather.

Week 11
Recap and revision (Andy Bell, John McCloskey, and Ruth Doherty)
L21: Overview and questions (Andy Bell).
L22: Overview and questions (Ruth Doherty and John McCloskey).

Further Course Information can be found at the following links:
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This is an introductory level 8 course. It is aimed at students with at least some science background.
Additional Costs None.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  90
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 9, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 163 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment details
Written Exam 50%
Coursework 50%
Practical Exam 0%
Additional Information (Assessment)

Written Exam: 50%, Course Work: 50 %, Practical Exam: 0%.
The Course comprises 20 one-hour lectures that are supplemented by a series of 4 four-hour practicals (tutorial and feedback), each spread over two weeks together with four hand-ins and directed programme of reading. The first practical will be assessed as a formative exercise only and will not count to the assessment of the course.
Assessment of Practicals 2-4 will contribute equally to the course mark.
The Course is assessed by:
(a) A two-hour degree examination (50%)
(b) 3 assessed practical exercises (50%)
The overall course pass mark is 40% but in order to pass the course your marks in the exam and the coursework must each be at least 40% in each. A mark of »50% in one component will not compensate for a mark of «30% in the other.

There is a 2-hour Degree examination in December.
- Example exam papers are available to help with your revision.
- The School is empowered to withdraw your right to sit degree examinations if you have persistently failed to carry out the work of the course without good reason. Persistent failure to attend lectures, failure to attend practical classes or to hand in reports on time will be taken as evidence of inadequate performance unless an acceptable reason is given: normally a medical certificate is required in case of illness.
All details related to extensions procedures and late penalties can be found in the School of Geosciences Handbook, on the Learn UG Student Information Hub.

Each practical exercise will be completed over two practical sessions and will be handed in on completion. The first practical will be assessed as a formative exercise only and will not count to the assessment of the course. Assessment of Practicals 2-4 will contribute equally to the course mark.
The exercises will be submitted electronically via Turnitin on the Course Learn page, by 12 noon on the following dates:
- Practical 1 (formative): Monday, week 5, 12 noon
- Practical 2 (summative): Monday, week 7, 12 noon
- Practical 3 (summative): Monday, week 9, 12 noon
- Practical 4 (summative): Monday, week 11, 12 noon
Feedback The initial class exercise, during the first practical session, will be a formative feedback assignment. Further feedback can be obtained from the staff immediately at the end of the lecture, and/or staff and teaching assistants throughout the practical sessions.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a broad knowledge of the main natural hazards and therefore be capable of recognising, defining and describing the variety and diversity of natural hazards that affect the Earth's surface environments.
  2. Explain the relationships between geohazards (earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanism, slope collapse), active tectonic processes expressed on the Earth's surface and underlying processes in the Earth.
  3. Understand and explain the relationships between meteorological hazards and the underlying physical processes operating in the atmosphere.
  4. Develop an appreciation of the incidence and significance of impacts as hazards both at present and in the past using routine techniques in natural hazard analysis (natural and historical records and remote sensing of present-day images).
  5. Appreciate the basic principles of risk, develop and apply that knowledge in order to determine the risk associated with specific types of natural hazard, in order to appreciate the complexity of dealing with these issues at the professional level.
Reading List
Keller, EA and Blodgett RH., Natural Hazards - Earth's Processes as Hazards, Disasters, and Catastrophes,

Pearson Prentice Hall (2nd edition, September 2008).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Andrew Bell
Tel: (0131 6)50 4777
Course secretaryMr Johan De Klerk
Tel: (0131 6)50 7010
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